- "Life doesn't care about what you want. We don't get to choose."
- ―Teresa Mendoza
Teresa Mendoza is an exceptional survivor. A former money-changer from Sinaloa, she has risen to create and expand her own narcotics cartel, overseeing all cocaine transportation and distribution in Arizona and branching into Florida, Louisiana and Georgia.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Teresa was born in Culiacán and grew up in the Siete Gotas neighborhood, which she would later name her brand of tequila after. She was a salesgirl in the Buelna Mercado. She became a money changer at the age of fifteen, and by the age of sixteen she ran her own block2x01. She spent five years as a money changer on Calle Juarez1x02 before being picked up by Guero.
Her family was murdered by the cartels. Her mother was a nurse before she was born and used to say that "a bed is only as clean as its corners.2x01
Appearance[edit | edit source]
She has long, wavy brown hair and is considered to be very pretty by all who meet her. Teresa has a scar hidden by her hair that she received after being punished by her boss for taking counterfeit bills while she was working in Sinaloa; she was in the hospital for five weeks.1x03
Teresa is often seen wearing shirts with three-quarter sleeves. She also keeps a necklace with the patron saint Malverde on it, but does not wear it.1x02
Teresa has mercury fillings in her teeth, which are only used in Mexico.2x05
Personality[edit | edit source]
Teresa is a survivor. She thinks quickly on her feet and does what it takes to make it out alive. Her alter ego, The Queen of the South, often appears to her and gives her advice when she is in dangerous situations, and she almost always obeys.
Teresa is resourceful and uses what is given to her, as proven when she uses any sort of weakness or distraction to her advantage. She is stubborn1x02 and wants to prove herself to Camila in order to keep herself safe. However, Teresa is also kind, as shown by the way that she deals with Tony, bandaging up Sandra's son,1x04 and by getting medicine for a girl with a fever.1x06 She fights for the people she loves, as evidenced by how far she goes to try to protect Guero and Brenda.
She doesn't want people to die when there's another way to do things -- like using the time she can see to get out of the cave.1x06 James thinks that this is impossible, but later joins her cartel hoping that it's true.3x02
She is hesitant to kill people, because that's not who she is. There are lines that she doesn't want to cross. She tries to save Travis, first by trying to free him then by flashing the headlights of James' car to try to distract Eric so that the man could escape. She is shaken by his death and calls Brenda telling her that she needs to get out of there.1x05
She doesn't like to do cocaine, refusing what is offered to her by Chris1x04 and later Russell, telling Russell that she doesn't mix work and play.1x06 She also doesn't do coke with Leo, but is later forced to by La Capitana, and nearly overdoses.2x05
She is good in numbers, observes more, talks less, can analyze a situation, and thinks fast. 
Skills[edit | edit source]
Teresa was a money changer in Sinaloa for five years, so she can tell the difference between real and counterfeit money, which comes in handy when Lopez's goon Lucian tries to pay them in fake cash.1x03 She speaks both English and Spanish fluently and is very persuasive and can usually talk her way out of situations, making bold deals that leave both parties satisfied. While she was in Europe, Teresa took flying lessons.3x05
Relationships[edit | edit source]
- Brenda Parra: Her best friend, whom she loves and is protective of. They became friends after meeting through Guero. When Brenda first saw Teresa, she told her husband Chino to come look at her because she's so pretty.1x01
- Tony: Brenda's son, is her godson. She is shown to care for Tony and plays intermediary between them when they argue after Tony disappears for a few hours. After the death of Brenda, Teresa decides that she is responsible for the boy and promises him that she'll get them away from all of this. She has him live with Pote during the first half of Season 4, up until he learns that Pote killed his father.
- Guero: She was in a relationship with him for a number of months and they lived a relatively wealthy lifestyle as Guero was making good money as a pilot for the Vargas cartel. In a flashback, she told Guero that she "would do anything to protect [him].1x03 In a flashback,1x03 Teresa told Guero that she would do anything to protect him, giving him the Molverde necklace; she almost overdosed, almost drowned, ate a poisoned beetle, and was almost choked to death to protect him, but he's still jealous of her relationship with James. Guero was supposed to meet up with her and Pote when they were fleeing Mexico, but he didn't make it in time and was captured by Cortez. He spent eight months being tortured for information about Teresa, but he wouldn't give her up. He dies with his head on her lap, though she doesn't notice the moment that he dies.
- Camila Vargas and Teresa have a rather tense relationship. In season one, Camila protects Teresa because she believes that Teresa has something that Epifaño wants. Camila seems to like Teresa after Teresa proves her loyalty, first by swallowing the cocaine balloons that were prone to bursting,1x02 then by not revealing that she is tied to Camila when she is attacked by DEA agents who are working for Camila.1x03 Camila says that she would be disappointed if she had to kill Teresa if she tried to run because she's starting to like her, and that she doesn't have to worry about Epifaño because she'll take care of it.1x05 Teresa promised her loyalty to Camila, but not her life.2x01 Camila is set on killing Teresa, because she blames her for the death of her husband.
- Aveline: Teresa only knew her for a matter of minutes before Aveline died from bags of cocaine bursting in her stomach.1x02 Teresa replaces Aveline as the mule for the drop-off at the airport that day, and later does her other runs.
- Javier Jimenez: joins up with Teresa and James late in season 3. He helps recover King George and decides to stay with Teresa after James leaves.
- King George: is fond of Teresa and they have a good partnership. Teresa goes to great lengths to recover him after he and Bilal are kidnapped by Cortez.
- Leo: Leo was Guero's ex-girlfriend. She sent the Commander after them, which led to Teresa nearly overdosing on cocaine. Teresa later punched her for trying to kill her. They speak about Guero and Leo says that they both deserve better than him. One of the last things that Leo says before she dies is a plea for Guero to let Teresa go.
- Russell: is a client of Camila's and an immigration lawyer. She attempts to get immigration papers from him so that she can get herself, Brenda, and Tony somewhere safe. He pays her extra cash every month in return for a guarantee that if there is ever a supply shortage, he will be the first to receive his shipment.
- Father Ramon: helps Teresa get her friends across the border by telling her where the tunnel they use is.
- Eddie Brucks is her piano teacher in Season 4 and they are interested in each other. They sleep together. After she is attacked in Nashville, Teresa breaks up with him.
- Pote Galvez: Her relationship with him is complicated. Pote was present when Gato was raping her, and tried to tell Gato to stop. He owes Teresa his life for deciding not to shoot him and decides to stay by her side because she had done more for him in the short span that he knew her than Epifaño had ever done. Pote goes with her to Malta and they develop a closer relationship. When Pote's hand is mauled, he tells her that he might not be able to shoot, but he can still take a bullet for her, and he will. Teresa trusts Pote with her life and has her godson Tony live with him to protect him. After Tony learns that it was Pote that killed his dad, Teresa asks Tony to come live with her.
- James Valdez: Him and Teresa have saved each other's lives a number of times and they are often paired on missions for Camila. He advises her to be careful and only do what she's asked to do so that Camila will get bored with her, which will make it easier for her to get out of this life.1x03 At first, he wanted to use Teresa as leverage with Epifaño, but after spending more time with her, he begins to worry about her, even offering to find her when she is kidnapped by Batman.1x04 After Teresa goes back for him after their deal is busted by the DEA and they are separated, James appears to see Teresa in a new light, and is shown to be upset when it is suggested that they sell Teresa to Epifaño to pay off Camila's debts.1x06 James loses Teresa's trust after he shoots at her in the train depot, but she decides to let him back into her life a few months later. Teresa and James kissed and slept together.3x05 After the death of Guero, Teresa pushed him and everyone else away in her grief.3x07 In celebration of taking Phoenix and eliminating La Comisión, James and Teresa slept together again.3x09 After Teresa and Pote suspect James is the mole, James is upset and tells Teresa that they should probably have some time apart.3x11 James officially leaves in the season 3 finale in order to protect Teresa, unbeknownst to her.
Quotes[edit | edit source]
Quotes from Teresa[edit | edit source]
- "You know driving like a pendejo's not gonna help, right?" - Teresa to James, in the car while he's driving erratically on the way to the airport.
- "Nothing wrong with beauty when there's brains beneath it." -Teresa to Camila.
- I'll fight until I die, but I'm not running anymore. - Teresa to Camila.
Quotes about Teresa[edit | edit source]
- "Shit, you got more guts than you could hang on a fence." -Sandra.
- "I've seen a lot of girls in my time who are trouble. And you... are trouble." - James Valdez.
- Brains, balls, and booty! If Rico Suave here didn't already have dibs, I might just make you my queen. - King George to Teresa about James.
- "Camila's lucky to have you. You one bad bitch." - Lil T, 2x10.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- In particularly tense situations, Teresa's heartbeat often becomes audible.
- She is moved to the pen where they keep the drug mules by James, after Camila tells him to get Teresa to trust him.1x03
- Camila gave her a $50,000 Rolex for noticing that the bills that Lopez was paying with were fake. Teresa didn't accept the gift, saying that she owed Camila that money anyway. Camila had James put it aside for her.1x03
- Her first solo mission for the Vargas Cartel (Texas) was a delivery to Sandra. She did not complete the other scheduled deliveries because Camila had someone else do them after what happened that day.1x04
- For the first half of season one, Teresa drives a beaten up red car, using a screwdriver for a key.
- Her grandmother taught her how to cook.1x04
- She used the own the same pair of shoes that Kim has in her closet, and she wears the shoes to Eric's party.1x05
- She believes in God.2x01
- Guero gave her the deed to his house as a birthday present,3x06 presenting a parallel to James trying to give her the keys to his compound and leaving.3x05
- Teresa says that her favorite memory is running around in the dahlia fields as a child.4x04
Gallery[edit | edit source]